Young people in the UK drink heavily more frequently than in almost any other European country (1). Although drinking alcohol can be fun and sociable, it can also have many adverse effects.
Alcohol affects young people in different ways from adults. This is largely due to the fact that young people are still developing physically, mentally and emotionally, and can lack the experience to know their limits and to deal with the effects of alcohol.
While there have been official Government drinking guidelines for adults for many years, it was only in 2009 that the Chief Medicinal Officer published guidelines for under-18s and their parents. It was recommended that children under 15 should not drink at all, and those between 15 and 17 should only drink when supervised by an adult, keeping within the daily sensible drinking guidelines of 2-3 units for a woman and 3-4 units for a man.
If you are under 18 and you do decide to drink, it is important to be aware of the facts so that you are able to make responsible decisions.
Did you know?
- More than eight out of ten 15 year olds have tried alcohol (2)
- In a recent study, 58% of 15 year olds who had drunk alcohol recently had suffered negative consequences such as getting into fights, being ill, missing school, being injured or getting into trouble with the police (3)
- 22% of all admissions to A and E are alcohol related (3)
- In 2007, 2,451 deaths in England were directly related to alcohol consumption (3)
- Around 5000 teenagers are admitted to hospital every year for alcohol-related reasons (4)
Follow the links below to find out more about young people and alcohol.
(1) European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), 2007
(2) (Fuller, E (ed.) 2008. Drug use, smoking and drinking among young people in England in 2007, National Centre for Social Research, National Foundation for Educational Research.)
(3) http://www.talkaboutalcohol.com/AtSchool/location-48.aspxSource:NHS confederation briefing 2010 and NHS statistics on England 09 and DCSF Children, Young People and Alcohol consultation 2009.
(4) NHS Information Centre, Statistics for Alcohol: England 2009.